The forecast for Oklahoma Derby (gr. III) Day was a 30% chance of rain. Then at 9 a.m., the northwestern sky turned black and lightning bolts began splitting clouds and eardrums. The downpour lasted about two and a half hours and the Remington Park surface turned to slop.
Richard Simon, owner of the race's co-favorite and eventual winner, The Judge Sez Who, wasn't fazed slightly by the conditions because he knew he had a horse that could handle anything.
"This horse does it all," Simon said. "He sprints. He goes long. He goes on the grass. And he always gives you everything he's got. If all racehorse owners could own a horse like this, it would be an easy business."
The son of Judge T C--Mandy Mack didn't have his way with an exceptionally strong field of nine in Remington Park's main event, but he proved to be the most determined among his competitors that included Easyfromthegitgo, runner-up in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) and third in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II); Dusty Spike, who finished third in the Rebel Stakes (gr. III); and several improving stakes winners.
Jockey Cornelio Velasquez bided his time in the muddy 1 1/8-mile race, which produced moderate opening fractions of :23.38 and :46.97. He sat sixth down the backstretch and slowly began closing ground on leader Cowboy Stuff, who grabbed the lead going into the first turn and didn't relinquish it until the top of the stretch.
As Cowboy Stuff faded, three horses quickly took his place and a wall of horses charged toward the wire. A.P. Five Hundred had a slight lead in the pack ahead of The Judge Sez Who and co-favorite Easyfromthegitgo. The Judge Sez Who, running three wide from the rail, dug in and beat Easyfromthegitgo by a half-length. A.P. Five Hundred was nipped at the wire for third.
The final time was 1:49.34, just over a second off the track record of 1:48.
"If it had been a fast track, maybe we would have broken the record," said Simon, who bred and raised the colt.
The Judge Sez Who is expected to race next in either the Super Derby (gr. II) at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 21 or the Indiana Derby (gr. III) at Hoosier Park on Oct. 5. By Eric Mitchell